Their Bones for Bread

On the stoop, how many years past,
And he appealed to me to leave
Don’t waste it all, he begged-

pie in the sky
he called You:
A crutch.

And I said goodbye like this:
”Not a crutch, but a wheelchair-
and if you are lame,
a wheelchair is a gift.”

And he understood,
Like so many outside do.

Yet inside
I feel coerced into hobbling
on the broken knee-
and it’s never as good as running-
Never enough
to say I got here on a crutch
and the wheels of grace

No room for the broken
in the engine of advancement,
of pressing out, stamping forward,
Treading the little ones,
and the lame ones,
under the righteous toe.

And what standard of measure
Can I use safely?
Deficient by all lengths, but
I hope for the day

The light that pushes back the night
shines with some radiance of warmth,
some basic human kindness
to those outside,
and those within:

I want to feel safe again.

Reservation for One

I suppose you can’t hold the table.

When I was young
the clinking glasses and silver
were diamonds tinkling
against my new skin-
Learning to stretch, to dance, to leap-
always learning how
to use this new thing that is me.
My hair, the dense forest,
cascaded in waves down
gaunt hillsides-
That hour is passed.
Thinning now, and dry
it cracks like desert mud
forgets where the river ran.
My traintrack spine
missing sleepers and spikes
with sleeplessness for thinning ballast-
The years pass like train cars,
in blinks:
a job, —
an apartment, —
a relationship, —
I inhale fast
and glance furiously at my watch.
Oh, good.
There’s still time.

I head out to meet my reservation
into the tangled mass
of furling boulevards and back-alleys,
Streets twisting and contorting,
obscuring their corners
I step deliberately
like Jack climbing
a multitude of woven stalks
looking for his one giant.
I find directional flow,
and passive valves,
and hawkers on corners,
Backstreet tyrants
with hands like freshly-sawn ham-hocks
And my table is around any corner,
Every corner,
and none.
No one understands me
as I plead for directions
I scrutinize signs
printed on walls and billboards,
spray-painted in dark corners,
signs written in the skies.
I glance at my watch.
I thump its face
a poor attempt to change its mind.
The hours thin
like the light around me
I begin to grieve:
my time is almost up.

Will they hold it for me?

I stumble now, sober
But footless like some
career drunkard
waltzing with the ghosts
he drinks to avoid

Who invited me?
I can’t remember.

Who told me there was a table,
And I could have a seat at it?
Who told me I could bring something
to the Great Conversation,
Or make some meaningful connection
Past ham-salad sandwiches
and the exchange of goods and services?

I finger through the scratched phonographs of yesterdays
Back to the beginning,
But I can’t find the song or album I’m looking for,
not in this light.

It’s okay- it can wait.
There’ll be light enough at my table.
It must be around here.
I must be close by now,
I’ve come so far….

Works isn’t Working

Since I got to this place, it’s been loud
Everyone yelling at me what I must do,
But it isn’t about them;
It’s about You.
They don’t understand me,
And when I take their word
I forget who I am
Lost in the implied and inferred
But by Your word alone
I live, I love, I have my being
My gifts are worthless to them,
But in You, they are freeing.
I don’t know what home I have.
I can’t speak the language of this land,
But if I can love the least of these-
Carry me. Put us hand in hand.
Let the world know, weak as I am,
I serve the God of might-
You are the Mover- we the moved-
Number our days aright.

Morning Revelry

Linguistically wringing out again
The stale water pooled within
Time, and tired bones asleep
Let the tigers from their keep
But the redeye carries shuteye
And rest restores the great enterprise:

Life, awoken

Nomadic Roots

I wept
That girl I can’t remember being
Wept and begged
To belong in Your world, fleeing
Her own world on broken legs
And there was

No room at the Inn for me either,
So I wandered…
And You came along
All those years squandered
Waiting for some invitation, wronged
By all

My own assumptions.
Lone travels, and smokes, and nights
Staring down the stars, asking You
Why I survived, what right
Had I to starry views
And how could I get closer

To You.
I’ve lived all these days sleeping
On the outskirts, an outsider,
And I stopped weeping.
I can’t wedge a divider,
Or reshape what’s been formed

By wild rains,
City lights and uncut earth,
The river’s edge groaning
Swelling, giving birth
To neon coffee foaming
Some lonely guitar

Plucking my allegiance.
I belong first to You,
And then to the lost ones,
Between the floorboards, through
The cracks in the functions
Of societies and proprieties

And families.
But how can I build the bricks,
Mix the mortar, lay the grout,
Building the walls thick
That kept us out
In the cold

Because we bled all wrong
Because we didn’t cower at the knuckles of honesty
And every world is Yours.

Straggler View

I’m the one
The lost and left behind one,
Nipped at by the pack
Straggling in the back,
Struggling against demise
Looking up to realize
I’m the one lost and left behind-

The one He seeks and finds.

Therefore, to the one who knows…

Always a worn down gear:
The cogs grind-
Their teeth chatter
Missing each other
Falling behind

On the edge of a steep slope,
And those in arms’ reach
Wait to see what I do at the summit-
Soar, or more likely plummet-
Debris scattered along the beach.

Palms in the air, Pilate’s hands washed clean,
No one is responsible for the other:
Push on, push on, push farther in-
Never slow down, never stop again-
No keeper keeps his brother.

We throw our alms at each other,
But we’ve forgotten how to invest:
To rest together, to break bread,
To struggle in-arm, to bury the dead,
To pick each other up, breast to breast

We don’t wear each other’s mud.
We don’t bear each other’s load.
We cheer, we goad, we disappear
Somewhere along the road.